Event Planning

1. What is Event Planning?
2. What skills does an Event Planner have?
3. Who hires event planners?
4. What Event Planning resources are available?

1. What is Event Planning?

An event planner is, quite simply, someone who organizes an event. When we think of an “event” we may think of something spectacular, such as the Super Bowl, the Presidential Inauguration, New Year’s festivities in Times Square, or any of the other major events we hear about or see on television. Of course event planners are needed for all these events. However, event planners also work on thousands of smaller events. Any time people gather together for a purpose, whether it is for a wedding, a conference, a festival, a formal dinner, or the grand opening of a new store, someone is needed to oversee all the details to ensure the event happens and that it is a success.

Can you juggle many things at once without missing the details? Do you have the vision to see the big picture and the personality to get other people to see it too? Are you results oriented but always cautious of the bottom line? If this describes you, then you might have what it takes to be an event planner.

Most people who want to become event planners have been organizing, orchestrating, directing and creating for years without really realizing it. All the birthday parties, family reunions, bake-sales, sorority functions, and charity work are, in one form or another, a special event. Many planners get their start this way. The boss tells you to “organize a little something” or you’re asked to do something for a friend, then if you’re lucky, a friend of a friend.

Event planners may also work for themselves out of their homes. Start up costs are very minimal…a phone, a website, and business cards. Most self-employed event planners just starting out spend the majority of their time marketing themselves and finding clients. Getting to know local venues, caterers, florists, and rental companies is also important. Some planners specialize in certain types of events, such as weddings.

2. What skills does an Event Planner have?

Event planning requires creativity, organization and flexibility. You will need to work well under pressure to meet deadlines and be able to multi-task as you juggle multiple projects. You need to be assertive when dealing with a crisis yet patient with your client. Strong written and verbal communication skills allow you to negotiate well with your client and vendors and an understanding of budgeting will help you stay on target with your expenses.

3. Who hires event planners?

  • Banking/ Investment groups
  • Car Dealerships
  • Casinos
  • Caterers
  • Chambers of Commerce
  • Cities
  • Coalitions
  • Convention Centers
  • Convention & Visitors Bureaus
  • Country Clubs
  • Cruise Lines
  • Department Stores
  • Florists
  • Hospitals
  • Hotels/ Resorts
  • Museums
  • Nonprofit Organizations
  • Pharmaceutical Companies
  • Private Schools
  • Professional Associations
  • PR Firms
  • Shopping Malls
  • Theme Parks
  • Tourism Organizations
  • Trade Associations
  • Universities

4. What Event Planning resources are available?

Meeting Professionals International – Perhaps the most high profile site that lists job openings specifically for event planners
Meetings and Destinations Search International – MADJobs lists job opportunities in both the hotel and meeting planning industries.
Meetings Net – News and links for the  meetings, hospitality, and business travel industries
Society of Independent Show Organizers
International Association of Expositions and Events – Represents the interests of tradeshow and exposition managers and is the leading association for the global exhibition industry
Special Event Site – Listings of event planning companies and related vendors
National Association for Catering and Events
International Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus/Destination Marketing
American Society of Association Executives
Cool Works – Information and links to both seasonal jobs and career opportunities at national parks, theme parks, resorts/lodges, cruise lines, and other tourism related companies. Most positions are seasonal, but there are a few for the career-minded individual.
Wine and Hospitality Jobs
Hospitality Careers
Hospitality Online
Casino Careers
National Association of Wedding Professionals
The Association of Bridal Consultants
Association for Wedding Professionals International
Association of Certified Professional Wedding Consultants
Event Management  Certificate Program George Washington University
HSMAI – Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI). Check out for event planning jobs and resources.
MPI – Meeting Professionals International, the premier global association community for meeting and event professionals. Job board and resources available.
CIC – Convention Industry Council. Industry best practices, resources, and events.

Event Planning Publications

Business Travel News
Professional Convention Management Association
International Special Events Society
Group Travel Leader

For a timeline of the job and internship search process and event planning industry recruiting, click here.